SisterACTS met | Journal-news | journal-news.net

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MARTINSBURG – SisterACTS met at Calvary United Methodist Church on October 22 with 25 ladies in attendance. Children’s music was the theme of the day as the group discovered the Eagle School Intermediate All-Star Band. Group director and music teacher at ESI, Matthew Blom, explained how he started the group program in 2017 with just 40 students (grades 4 and 5 only) for the after-school program. Currently, the ESI All-Star group has 90 students involved.

Additionally, Paige Kozak joined the All-Star group this year as an assistant group manager. Matt and Paige shared how they added approximately twelve unpaid overtime hours to their work schedule to provide this music program for students at ESI, which has over 600 children, many of whom are economically disadvantaged.

Matt Blom, who earned his undergraduate degree and is currently pursuing his master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, writes most of the music for the All-Star Band to ensure he’s kid-friendly for those young learners. Kozak graduated from Martinsburg High School, where she played saxophone in the band program. Her love for children and music led her to quit a higher paying non-educational job to pursue a primary education.

Children and their principals meet twice a week for group practice – some meet after school, some meet before school starts, and some give up other times in order to fill their practice time of the group. As Blom and Kodak shared, this elementary music program is “one of a kind” for schools in Berkeley County, as well as all elementary schools in West Virginia.

There have been many benefits of this program – these children are introduced to instrumental music before sixth grade when instrumental music is provided. The school has noticed an increase in attendance because often students in the group go the extra mile to attend school because they don’t want to miss the group class. For children who find studying difficult, the music program provides a great opportunity for them to excel and the music room often provides a “safe” place where students learn to build team spirit, confidence and, indeed, practice makes it perfect.

Blom and Kozak proudly shared how their students are starting to learn to play their instruments. As Blom joked, “I know when the band starts to sound good because I don’t go home with a headache!” These two teachers are excited about the support of this community, but are still in need of instruments (new or used brass instruments), funding for music chairs (a cost of approximately $10,000), and/or funding for the program in general. If you have a lightly used instrument that you would like to donate or would like to donate, you can contact Matt Blom at [email protected] or Paige Kozak at [email protected] or by contacting the school at Eagle School Intermediate, 730 Eagle School Road, Martinsburg.

After their speakers, Amanda Lewis shared a devotional and reminded them that their personal messages should be like those of Jesus – clear and unmixed. Leigh Fleming led the business portion of our meeting by sharing correspondence SisterACTS had received, financial donations the group had made to various organizations, etc. The ladies voted to donate a total of $250 to the ESI All-Star Band program. Their service project was to collect needed items for C-Cap as well as cards to send to veterans at the VA Center and through the Meals on Wheels program. In total, nearly 100 foodstuffs (cereal, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter and jelly) have been bagged and will be transported to C-Cap. Approximately 200 cards will be given out to thank the men and women who have served our country.

The next SisterACTS meeting will be at Otterbein United Methodist Church on November 12 starting at 10 a.m. Sister ACTS = Sisters Actively Caring Through Serving. For more information about the group “Like” their SisterACTS Facebook page, call 304-267-6579 or email [email protected]

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